Thomas 'no-bills' upset law enforcement -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Thomas 'no-bills' upset law enforcement

Sheriff's Investigator Tim Watkins Sheriff's Investigator Tim Watkins

Thomas County investigators are disputing a Grand Jury's decision to toss out several cases last week, many with confessions to their crimes. Thomas County sheriff's deputies are calling on the jurors to turn the cases over to the court system.

Some officers say the 18 men and women who filled these seats in the Thomas County Judicial Courthouse let criminals off the hook. "I have no idea what was going on with the minds of the grand jury. What happens in the grand jury is secret. But I would...all I'm saying is they did not follow the charge that was given to them," said Sheriff's Investigator Tim Watkins.

Watkins says the seven cases given a no-bill by the Grand Jury were serious offenses, four of which the defendants confessed to. "A 19 year-old who's also charged with statutory rape, he also has another pending case where he's been charged with statutory rape for having sex with an underage child. That case was a no-bill," Watkins said.

The other cases included a 26-year-old woman accused of having sex with a 14-year-old child, and a woman arrested with cocaine who had outstanding probation warrants. "Well, yes, we think there is some type of disconnect. We would like for the grand jury to follow the conscience of the community, and actually bind those cases over to the court system and let the court system actually make a determination."

After speaking out against the decisions, Watkins was given this response from one defendant's attorney claiming the investigator omitted facts from a case and condemned his criticisms of the grand jury. But facing the victims and their families in confessed cases that are tossed out is difficult.

"You tell them, you know, he trusts the police, we'll take care of this. And then we take it to the grand jury and they no-bill it. And what do you go back and tell that parent?"

Watkins says he wants the defendants to face the punishments as stated by the law. Watkins says the jurors didn't follow instructions and evaluate the evidence in each of the cases. He also says he worries about future cases that could appear before the grand jury and hopes the cases can be moved to the court system for punishment or adjudication soon.


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